THE first question of my fourth decade of Table Discourses shall be concerning different sorts of food eaten at one meal. When we came to Hyampolis at the feast called Elaphebolia, Philo the physician gave us a very sumptuous entertainment; and seeing some boys who came with Philinus feeding upon dry bread and calling for nothing else, he cried out, O Hercules, well I see the proverb is verified,
They fought midst stones, but could not take up one,and presently went out to fetch them some agreeable food. He staid some time, and at last brought them dried figs and cheese; upon which I said: It is usually seen that those that provide costly and superfluous dainties neglect, or are not well furnished with, useful and necessary things. I protest, said Philo, I did not mind that Philinus designs to breed us a young Sosastrus, who (they say) never all his lifetime drank or ate any thing beside milk, although it is probable that it was some change in his constitution that made him use this sort of diet; but our Chiron here,— [p. 290] quite contrary to the old one that bred Achilles from his very birth,—feeding his son with unbloody food, gives people reason to suspect that like a grasshopper he keeps him on dew and air. Indeed, said Philinus, I did not know that we were to meet with a supper of a hundred beasts, such as Aristomenes made for his friends; otherwise I had come with some poor and wholesome food about me, as a specific against such costly and unwholesome entertainments. For I have often heard that simple diet is not only more easily provided, but likewise more easily digested, than such variety. At this Marcion said to Philo: Philinus hath spoiled your whole provision by deterring the guests from eating; but, if you desire it, I will be surety for you, that such variety is more easily digested than simple food, so that without fear or distrust they may feed heartily. Philo desired him to do so.